Lunar Landings

Saturday, July 20th is the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon Landing, and there’s a massive media blitz surrounding the occasion. Pretty much every major news outlet is covering it in some way, and it’s no surprise that NASA is leading the publicity frenzy.

On Friday at 1 p.m. (EDT) NASA is broadcasting 50 Years Ago Apollo 11 Launches Into History on NASA Live.

There are also a ton of related events going on all over the place — there’s bound to be something going on near you!

For example, here are a few links to stories about how the restored Apollo Mission Control Center at NASA Johnson Space Center is opening this weekend.
Restoring Apollo Mission Control Center (NASA)
Apollo Mission Control Reopens in All Its Historic Glory, July 20 (NASA)

In honor of this momentous occasion, and being the total space buff that I am, I couldn’t resist dipping into my personal trove of “Moon Media” and rummaging around to find a few tidbits that might not show up in mainstream news stories.

Let’s start with the Apollo 11 Command Module that currently resides at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. A team there did a full 3-D scan of it, so among other things, you can tour it online (Smithsonian fully digitized the Apollo 11 Command Module). Here’s a trailer about the project from the Wall Street Journal, and you can explore it here!

Here’s an article some of the neat details that you can see in the module.
Apollo 11: The Writings on the Wall (Allan Needell, Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum)

If you’re a computer buff, then you might get a kick out of a nine minute video by Paul Shillito entitled How did the Apollo flight computers get men to the moon and back?.

The website Virtual AGC — AGS — LVDC — Gemini also has tons of information about computer simulations of the guidance computers used in the Apollo lunar missions.

If you want a glimpse into at least part of the calculations that the Apollo computers had to do to get humans to the moon, then try your hand at the game Lunar Lander. There’s an example of it on the Web thanks to the artist Seb Lee-Delisle who created it as part of his Lunar Trails exhibit. His version is called Moon Lander.

Of course, my archive happens to have a few relevant 360° videos 🙂

My favorite one is this two minute simulation of Apollo 11’s landing and the first moonwalk.

That’s great, but it’s a tad short on realism.

Here’s a more realistic 360° video about Apollo 17 astronaut Gene Cernan’s last walk on the moon in 1972 that has a panorama created from photos that he took at the time.

Here’s another one minute 360° video of the same stills where you can look around and feel as if you are really standing on the Moon!

If you want to experience some more “real” moon imagery, then try out Google Moon!

Hardcore Apollo 11 fans might also enjoy the two plus hours of NASA’s restored video Moonwalk, and NASA even uploaded all of the 9,000 hours of audio from the Apollo 11 mission to the Internet Archive.

Cool stuff!

However, if you’re only looking for a fun way to kick off the weekend, then take a ride on this Space Mountain-esque 360° video complete with audio from the Apollo 11 Mission!

If you want to explore beyond the Moon, then try playing around with this 360° experiment called Solar Extremes. It’s part of the series of Toy Worlds that I made to serve as 3D visual interfaces to Cosma (see post). Like the other Toy Worlds, this was made by taking a shot of a diorama with a RICOH Theta 360° camera and uploading it to RoundMe.

Have a great weekend!

Find out more about the Moon and space travel